Natchitoches, LA (Sports Network) - Clifton Lee scored 22 points and grabbed five rebounds to lead Northwestern State past Sam Houston State, 95-87, in the finals of the Southland Conference Tournament at Prather Coliseum.
Jermaine Wallace added 16 points and five rebounds for the top-seeded Demons (25-7), who improved to 14-0 at the Prather Coliseum this season. Kerwin Forges and Tyronn Mitchell both finished with 13 points to help lift the Demons to the title.
Jejuan Plair paced five Bearkats players in double-figures with 23 points. John Gardiner and Ryan Bright each donated 17 for the second-seeded Sam Houston State (22-9), which lost for just the second time in its last seven games.
Bright also grabbed nine rebounds and blocked three shots.
It was close early in the contest until the Demons began to pull away midway through the first half.
A Byron Allen layup broke a 19-19 tie and sparked a 9-1 Demon run for a 28-20 Northwestern State lead with just under 8 1/2 minutes left. Bright countered with a three-pointer to stop the bleeding.
It was only temporary though as the Demons netted the next eight points to go up 36-23 with just six minutes left in the opening half and Northwestern State carried a 48-37 edge into the break.
The Bearkats opened up the second half with six straight points to get within five at 48-43. However, the Demons held off the attack and later extended to an 11-point edge, 58-47, after Wallace's trey just under four minutes into the half.
Northwestern State continued to cruise in the second half, taking a 75-62 advantage on a Wallace basket at the midway point of the frame. The Bearkats did not get closer then nine points until a Bright layup and back-to-back three-pointers by Chris Jordan made it an 86-83 deficit with a little over two minutes left to play.
However, the Demons went 9-of-10 from the free throw line after that to clinch the win.
Allen ended with nine points and five rebounds...Shamir McDaniel and Jordan both netted 12 points in the loss. McDaniel also had eight assists...The Demons shot 50 percent from the floor to the Bearkats 45.5 percent...Sam Houston State won this title back in 2003...Northwestern State's only conference loss this season came at the hands of the Bearkats (15-1)...The Demons improved to 26-23 in the all-time series.
03/12 16:48:30 ET